The electrifying truth about humanity

Big Picture Blog

By: Annie Sragner, Associate Arts & Life Editor

Throughout human history, electricity has evolved from a luxury into a necessity. The average American household uses 11,698 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, while other nations like Germany, Italy and Japan only log a couple thousand per year according to shrinkthatfootprint.com.

It’s an understatement to say that the modern world depends on electricity. When the power goes out, we find ourselves trapped in moments where we can barely make things happen. Without electricity, we can’t pump gas, keep food fresh or maintain other simple amenities. Also, our phones, computers and most methods of communication, die without regular charging.

Biologically, we also need electricity to keep us alive. Our brains depend on electricity to send signals to our bodies in order to make sense of the stimuli detected by our senses. Without electricity, our bodies wouldn’t be able to think, move or interpret our environment.

We needed electricity in order to become the civilized and industrialized country we are today. Society invented the ability to control electricity through wires and cables in order to cater it to our uses, but we still don’t control it with certainty.

Whenever I catch reruns of “Doomsday Preppers” on TV, I notice that a lot of the people featured are preparing for solar flares, which is basically when the sun releases a lot of energy into space at once and can cause hazardous effects on Earth, like producing electromagnetic pulses.

If an electromagnetic pulse were to impact the Earth, it could have the power to knock out our entire power grid. There’s no current estimate of when we could encounter a pulse during our lifetimes, but the risk is high.

Now I’m not saying to go buy a bunker and prepare for the apocalypse, but it is important to keep in mind that our power grid is not permanent and we should consider what life would be like without basic needs and extensive technology.

We would essentially be sent back to the Stone Age in terms of progress. It is almost impossible to fathom a world without the internet to communicate. Most of our digital files would be lost and millions of people who do their work over the internet would be instantly jobless. Eventually, our food supply would dwindle and water would stop flowing without the electricity needed for maintenance. Essentially, the resulting consequences would be catastrophic.

We have come so far because of the technology that electricity allows. We live in a convenient world where anything is possible. Think about how much technology gives you, and how much you would lose if you didn’t have it anymore.

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